As an avid reader and a keen, yet critical listener I have for quite some time been aware that words and phrases have an effect on my emotions and psyche, especially when originating from lyrics and literature. Only fairly recently, however, have I come to realize that everyday words relating to myself (irrespective of whether they originate from myself or from others), have a profound (long-term) impact on my Self. Put differently: I have come to believe that the effects of words incrementally amalgamate into a house or home for the psyche.
A house, usually understood as a three-dimensional structure enclosing and structuring space, essentially constitutes a protective and enabling shelter for its occupants. In order to transform the mere structure into an abode for living in, a house’s inhabitants usually leave a personalized imprint on it, be it through practical and / or decorative means, consequently giving meaning and purpose to an otherwise empty shell. By doing so, the occupants of a house inevitably represent and express themselves. A home, either as a specific arrangement of rooms or simply as a particular place / space, can thus be understood as a room for and a room of the Self, — a space which empowers the Self whilst at the same time mirroring the Self in various ways. Since the Self is affected by its physical surroundings as much as it shapes that very environment, a complex inter-relation ensues.
The concept of an inter-relation between the Self and its surroundings can be extended to the realm of the psyche. Words relating or referring to the Self have an impact on it which I believe solidify into a specific frame-of-mind over time, subsequently influencing the beliefs, actions and vocabulary employed by the Self. The effects of words thus amalgamate into a structure around the psyche, and thus by extension into a house / home1.
Throughout the body of work presented as part of the Between the Lines series, the house constitutes the main visual element, representing a “contour around an interior”2. As a shape, the house has retained key archetypal elements such as windows and / or doors and containing walls. Nonetheless it can be interpreted on various different levels: as an architectural study, a 3-dimensional exploration of structure, an interplay of surfaces and spaces, a container of memory or as a symbol of home, self, family and inter-personal experiences where walls enclose either lovingly and protecting, or threatening and debilitating3.
As small objects the houses dwell on detail, and they are not overtly demanding attention. As such they reflect the private and the hidden of everyday existence4. Their purpose is to facilitate the representation and
“(…) interpretation of the closest, the concrete, the everyday. For in the proximate, the daily, the apparently small, there is hidden (…) the metaphysical; the here-and-now is the place where meaning is disclosed, where our existence must find interpretation, if it can find interpretation at all. That is what dwelling, or the space of dwelling, is: something proximate, daily, apparently small (…)”5.
Not only do the houses or dwellings advance the interpretations of everyday, private experiences, but also a process of coming-to-terms-with, acceptance and closure. Since being construed as pieces of jewellery (meant to be worn on bodies moving through different environments and contexts), the houses, however, also cut across “the dividing lines between private and public, interior and exterior”6,mediating between inner and outer realities.
The notion of words eventually forming a home for the psyche provides me with an apt visual vocabulary to explore various experiences with words relating to my Self, all the while trying to visually capture the deeper, more complex connotations of what is being ‘said’ between the lines and eventually effected. Whilst the auto-biographical nature of the subject matter is not without its challenges, it does tie in with my ever-present, underlying interest in jewellery as a means of self-portraiture.
1 Words or a space, however, are not the only elements to constitute a home. Similarly to a home providing room for the Self in its various manifestations, so does the human body ‘provide room’ for the Self. The conceptual likeness between body and home allows for interesting parallels to be drawn, such as the strong visual correlation between the key elements of a human face (eyes and mouth within a frame), and the key Gestalt elements of a house (windows and a door within a frame). As with the home, the human body is inevitably utilized as a means of self-expression and its configuration has a marked influence on the Self and vice versa, again resulting in an inter-relation between the Self and that which surrounds it.
2 Miniature art, in Veiteberg, J. (ed.). 2012. Konrad Mehus. Form follows fiction. Jewellery and objects. Stuttgart: Arnoldsche Art Publishers. p 75.
5 Paul Tillich quoted from Abercrombie, S. 1990. A philosophy of interior design. Oxford: Westview Press, in Miniature art, in Veiteberg, J. (ed.). 2012. Konrad Mehus. Form follows fiction. Jewellery and objects. Stuttgart: Arnoldsche Art Publishers. p 75.
6 Miniature art, in Veiteberg, J. (ed.). 2012. Konrad Mehus. Form follows fiction. Jewellery and objects. Stuttgart: Arnoldsche Art Publishers. p 75.